Starting a tour of Exotic Programming languages

Since two dozen years I have a love affair going on with exotic, unknown programming languages. I believe at a certain point every serious programmer tend to develop his own programming language. I myself attempted to develop a kind of language to describe visual interface for my BBS around 1987. Computer interface where mostly text based and I use to create menu interface with ASCII code, producing beautiful low resolution colored pixels. But since I had an early experience with vector display on the PLATO terminal system from Control Data Corporation I designed a kind of visual description language. It was kind of elementary, features vectors, shapes, texts with fill and outline control in a resolution independent matrix. Unfortunately I wasn’t skilled enough to produce an implementation and it never existed in another form as my handwritten notes. However when many years later I discovered QuickDraw, the Macintosh graphic toolbox and Postscript, I was proud of myself at least of being able to spot the structural problem in describing screen by pixels (resolution) and think around a similar solution as the genius of the time.

My first real computer was probably a calculator, a Texas instrument 58c I played with it for a few monthes, learning its logic, primitive algorythms made of sequences of maximum 5000 instructions… but I really started programming in a little known language, Forth. It was the only programming language available on my white Jupiter ACE. I immediately loved the beauty of it’s simplicity. With the included manual I could learn the language in a day. Only a LIFO stack to push and pop data and a few instruction to solve about any problem. I could not do any floating point calculations but it was a great exercise for the mind to try reducing complex problem to the shortest suite of simple instructions. It was 1985 and about the same time I bought myself a book which was a general overview of programming languages. It featured quick review of BASIC, FORTRAN, PASCAL, ADA, LISP, and more. I still own a copy somewhere and this book opened my mind to a form of human creation that since then fascinate me : the art of designing programming languages which in the hand of programmers can theoretically solve any computing problem.

I am always looking for those new languages and it’s my main subject of conversation whenever I meet one of those contemporary geniuses that do real programming. So I decided it was about time I share my discoveries in this modest geek blog.